It’s the fifth-place contest of the ESPN Events Invitational on the hardwood as the ACC takes on the SEC in the Sunshine State. The Miami Hurricanes are the ”road” team as they take on the #10 Alabama Crimson Tide Sunday afternoon. Miami earned a 69-63 victory over North Texas in their losers’ bracket matchup Friday their last time on the floor. Alabama comes in off an 80-71 triumph over Drake in their most recent game, which came in the losers’ bracket Friday. The Crimson Tide owns a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series between the teams though it was the Hurricanes earning a 73-66 win at home in the second round of the NIT in the most recent meeting on March 21, 2015.
Miami Hurricanes Look to Earn Second Straight WinMiami had to rally in the second half and put the game away in the closing minutes to earn the victory over North Texas. The Hurricanes improved to 4-2 on the season with the victory and look to build off that in this contest. Miami gave up an 11-0 run in the first half to turn a 17-17 tie into a 28-17 deficit. The Hurricanes were down 12 at the half before starting to get things going. Miami used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to take a 52-48 lead only to see the Mean Green tie the game again at 59 with 4:29 to play. The Hurricanes leaned on their defense, holding North Texas scoreless for the next four-plus minutes while scoring six straight points, and went on to the victory. Miami shot 54.2% from the floor, including four of 12 from three-point range, and cashed in 13 of 16 free throw attempts in the game. Isaiah Wong led the Hurricanes with 21 points in the win.
The Hurricanes come into the game 137th in the nation in scoring offense with 74.8 points per game on the year. Miami pulls down an average of 33 rebounds per contest while dishing out 11.3 assists per game, which is 196th in the nation. The Hurricanes are below average defensively, ranking 229th in the country by allowing 71 points per contest. Kameron McGusty leads the team with 17 points plus 6.7 rebounds per contest this season. Isaiah Wong (15.8 points), Charlie Moore (10.5 points) and Anthony Walker (7.7 points) each are solid scoring options this season. Sam Waardenberg, Jordan Miller, Rodney Miller Jr., Bensley Joseph, Deng Gak and Harlond Beverly are key pieces for coach Jim Larranaga’s rotation. The Hurricanes shoot 45.4% from the field as a team this season. Miami connects on 5.2 three-pointers a night while shooting 27.7% from beyond the arc. The Hurricanes are decent at the charity stripe this season, shooting 75.7% as a team at the line.
Alabama Crimson Tide Try to Leave Sunshine State With MomentumAlabama came up with the win over Drake to distance themselves a bit from an upset loss to Iona in the opening round. The Crimson Tide improved to 5-1 on the year and look to make it two straight wins as they leave the Sunshine State after this game. Against Drake, Alabama trailed 14-10 before ripping off a 23-4 run to lead by 15 late in the first half. The Crimson Tide saw the Bulldogs score the final 11 points of the half to trim the lead to four at intermission. Both teams traded the lead in the second half and the game was even with 5:16 to play before Alabama reeled off a 13-3 run to take a 74-64 lead with 2:13 to play. That was enough for the Crimson Tide to earn the victory. Alabama shot 54.4% from the field, including five of 19 from three-point range, and went just 13 of 22 from the charity stripe in the victory. Jahvon Quinerly had 18 points to lead the Crimson Tide in the victory.
For the year, Alabama is averaging 84 points per game this season, putting them 25th in the nation in scoring offense. The Crimson Tide collects an average of 43.5 rebounds per game while they dish out an average of 14 assists a night. Alabama is surrendering an average of 70.3 points a night this season, putting them 218th in the country in scoring defense. Jaden Shackleford leads the team with 18.5 points plus seven rebounds per game this season. Keon Ellis (11.8 points), Jahvon Quinerly (15.8 points, 3.8 assists) and Darius Miles (nine points) provide good scoring support. Charles Bediako, JD Davison, Noah Gurley, Juwan Gary and Keon Ambrose-Hylton are among those who have to step up offensively for coach Nate Oats. The Crimson Tide is decent when it comes to shooting the ball as they are hitting 47.6% from the field as a team on the year. Alabama knocks down an average of 8.8 three-pointers a night while sinking 30.8% from beyond the arc. The Crimson Tide is mediocre at the charity stripe as they convert 64.8% of their chances at the line.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Alabama is an explosive offensive team and that works in their favor, especially playing against a Hurricanes team that has struggled on the defensive end of the floor. Miami is 272nd in effective field goal percentage defense (53%) and 324th in three-point field goal percentage defense (39.4%) on the year. The Crimson Tide showed some grit by holding Drake down offensively for two long stretches, one in each half, which helped decide the contest. Miami doesn’t have the depth to keep up with Alabama on that end of the floor and they lack the defensive presence to slow the Crimson Tide down. Look for Alabama to get the win here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Miami has seen the over hit in four of their six games this season. The Hurricanes are 156th in effective field goal percentage (50%) and 202nd in offensive rebounding percentage (27.2%) but they make their living at the charity stripe. Miami averages .439 free throw attempts per field goal attempt this season, which is the 16th-highest mark in Division I. Alabama comes into this contest having seen the over hit in three of their six games this season. The Crimson Tide are 15th in offensive efficiency, 7th in two-point shooting (60.8%) and 53rd in effective field goal percentage (54.4%) according to KenPom. Alabama loves to run and gun as they are 7th in the nation in tempo by averaging 73.7 possessions a night on the season. This one goes over the number as Alabama pushes the pace and exploits Miami’s defensive issues.